Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to strike many on the left, leaving them unable to resist going to ridiculous lengths to bring down the former president. Consider the quixotic quest in Nevada by two so-called “civil rights” groups.
The Review-Journal reported last week that the organizations Free Speech For People and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund have asked Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar to keep Donald Trump off the ballot should he be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024.
It’s a bit ironic that groups which purport to support the First Amendment and other democratic principles would happily wield the power of the state to limit the choices of Nevada voters. But this is the post-rational age in which we live.
The flimsy paper straw they clutch to justify this request is Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 Capitol mess. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment dictates that officeholders who have taken an oath to support the Constitution and “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” shall be ineligible to hold any state or federal office.
“The evidence is overwhelming that Donald Trump incited and mobilized the insurrection on January 6, 2021, at our nation’s capital,” Alexandra Flores-Quilty of Free Speech For People said in a statement. “The U.S. Constitution is clear that anyone who takes an oath of office and then engages in insurrection is forever barred from holding public office again.”
One problem: Trump has not been convicted or even charged with any crime related to Jan. 6. Ms. Flores-Quilty and members of Free Speech For People are certainly free to hold their own opinions about Mr. Trump’s activities, but no such legal determination in their favor has been made. Keeping a candidate off the ballot given those circumstances would be unprecedented.
The Hill reports that the Congressional Research Service has determined that the Constitution “does not necessarily require a criminal conviction” for the clause to be invoked, but that is an untested — and dubious — legal theory that would give secretaries of state unlimited discretion to block candidates for political purposes.
It’s no coincidence that these two groups are also running a similar gambit in other blue or purple states.
Trump’s actions — or nonactions — on Jan. 6, 2021, remain a black mark on his presidency. But manipulating constitutional provisions in an effort to keep voters from passing judgment on his candidacy is legally suspect and ill-advised and would verify the fears of his most ardent supporters.
Aguilar should make clear he won’t play this game.
This commentary initially appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.